Hidden Letters

China / 2022 / 86mins

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There are very few people today who know the secret language of Nushu. Written in poems or songs on paper-folded fans and handkerchiefs, the historical language was developed by Chinese women, who were forbidden to read or write for thousands of years. These hidden letters bonded generations of Chinese women in a clandestine support system of sisterhood, hope and survival.

Two millennials, young women called Hu Xin and Simu, are linked through their knowledge of Nushu. A world away from their foremothers who used it by necessity, Hu Xin and Simu are independent women who carry and protect the legacy of this private language of hope and resistance.

Yet, as Violet du Feng and Zhao Qing's gentle, pertinent, film reveals, the weight of patriarchal tradition and expectation still rest heavily on Hu Xin and Simu. Influenced by Nushu’s legacy of female solidarity, the two women struggle to find balance and forge their own paths in a culture steeped in female subservience to men.